Treasure Island

Jorie Graham


Le Manteau De Pascal


I have put on my great coat it is cold.

It is an outer garment.

Coarse, woolen.

Of unknown origin.

*

It has a fine inner lining but it is
as an exterior that you see it — a grace.

*

I have a coat I am wearing. It is a fine admixture.
The woman who threw the threads in the two directions
has made, skillfully, something dark-true,
as the evening calls the bird up into
the branches of the shaven hedgerows,
to twitter bodily
a makeshift coat — the boxelder cut back stringently by the owner
that more might grow next year, and thicker, you know —
the birds tucked gestures on the inner branches —
and space in the heart,
not shade-giving, not
chronological...Oh transformer, logic, where are you here in this fold,
my name being called-out now but back, behind,
in the upper world....

*

I have a coat I am wearing I was told to wear it.
Someone knelt down each morning to button it up.
I looked at their face, down low, near me.
What is longing? what is a star?
Watched each button a peapod getting tucked back in.
Watched harm with its planeloads folded up in the sleeves.
Watched grappling hooks trawl through the late-night waters.
Watched bands of stations scan unable to ascertain.
There are fingers, friend, that never grow sluggish.
They crawl up the coat and don't miss an eyehole.
Glinting in kitchenlight.
Supervised by the traffic god.
Hissed at by grassblades that wire-up outside
their stirring rhetoric — this is your land, this is my my —

*

You do understanding, don't you, by looking?
The coat, which is itself a ramification, a city,
floats vulnerably above another city, ours,
the city on the hill (only with hill gone),
floats in illustration
of what once was believed, and thus was visible —
(all things believed are visible) —
floats a Jacob's ladder with hovering empty arms, an open throat,
a place where a heart might beat if it wishes,
pockets that hang awaiting the sandy whirr of a small secret,
folds where the legs could be, with their kneeling mechanism,
the floating fatigue of an after-dinner herald,
not guilty of any treason towards life except fatigue,
a skillfully cut coat, without chronology,
filled with the sensation of being suddenly completed —
as then it is, abruptly, the last stitch laid in, the knot bit off —
hung there in Gravity, as if its innermost desire,
numberless the awaitings flickering around it,
the other created things also floating but not of the same order, no,
not like this form, built so perfectly to mantle the body,
the neck like a vase awaiting its cut flower,
a skirting barely visible where the tucks indicate
the mild loss of bearing in the small of the back,
the grammar, so strict, of the two exact shoulders —
and the law of the shouldering —
and the chill allowed to skitter up through,
and those crucial spots where the fit cannot be perfect —
oh skirted loosening aswarm with lessenings,
with the mild pallors of unaccomplishment,
flaps night-air collects in,
folds... But the night does not annul its belief in,
the night preserves its love for, this one narrowing of infinity,
that floats up into the royal starpocked blue its ripped, distracted supervisor —
this coat awaiting recollection,
this coat awaiting the fleeting moment, the true moment, the hill,the vision of the hill,
and then the moment when the prize is lost, and the erotic tinglings of the dream of reason
are left to linger mildly in the weave of the fabric according to the rules,
the wool gabardine mix, with its grammatical weave,
never never destined to lose its elasticity,
its openness to abandonment,
its willingness to be disturbed.

*

July 11 ... Oaks: the organization of this tree is difficult. Speaking generally
no doubt the determining planes are concentric, a system of brief contiguous and
continuous tangents, whereas those of the cedar wd. roughly be called horizontals
and those of the beech radiating but modified by droop and by a screw-set towards
jutting points. But beyond this since the normal growth of the boughs is radiating
there is a system of spoke-wise clubs of green — sleeve-pieces. And since the
end shoots curl and carry young scanty leaf-stars these clubs are tapered, and I
have seen also pieces in profile with chiseled outlines, the blocks thus made
detached and lessening towards the end. However the knot-star is the chief thing:
it is whorled, worked round, and this is what keeps up the illusion of the tree.
Oaks differ much, and much turns on the broadness of the leaves, the narrower
giving the crisped and starry and catharine-wheel forms, the broader the flat-pieced
mailed or chard-covered ones, in wh. it is possible to see composition in dips, etc.
But I shall study them further. It was this night I believe but possibly the next
that I saw clearly the impossibility of staying in the Church of England.

*

How many coats do you think it will take?

The coat was a great-coat.

The Emperor's coat was.

How many coats do you think it will take?

The undercoat is dry. What we now want is?

The sky can analyse the coat because of the rips in it.

The sky shivers through the coat because of the rips in it.

The rips in the sky ripen through the rips in the coat.

There is no quarrel.

*

I take off my coat and carry it.

*

There is no emergency.

*

I only made that up.

*

Behind everything the sound of something dripping

The sound of something: I will vanish, others will come here, what is that?

The canvas flapping in the wind like the first notes of our absence

An origin is not an action though it occurs at the very start

Desire goes travelling into the total dark of another's soul
looking for where it breaks off

I was a hard thing to undo

*

The life of a customer

What came on the paper plate

overheard nearby

an impermanence of structure

watching the lip-reading

had loved but couldn't now recognize

*

What are the objects, then, that man should consider most important?

What sort of a question is that he asks them.

The eye only discovers the visible slowly.

It floats before us asking to be worn,

offering "we must think about objects at the very moment
when all their meaning is abandoning them"

and "the title provides a protection from significance"

and "we are responsible for the universe."

*

I have put on my doubting, my wager, it is cold.
It is an outer garment, or, conversely a natural covering,
so coarse and woolen, also of unknown origin,
a barely apprehensible dilution of evening into
an outer garment, or, conversely a natural covering,
to twitter bodily a makeshift coat,
that more might grow next year, and thicker, you know,
not shade-giving, not chronological,
my name being called out now but from out back, behind,
an outer garment, so coarse and woolen,
also of unknown origin, not shade-giving, not chronological,
each harm with its planeloads folded up in the sleeves,
you do understand, don't you, by looking?
the jacob's ladder with its floating arms its open throat,
that more might grow next year, and thicker, you know,
filled with the sensation of being suddenly completed,
the other created things also floating but not of the same order,
not shade-giving, not chronological,
you do understand, don't you, by looking?
a neck like a vase awaiting its cut flower,
filled with the sensation of being suddenly completed,
the moment the prize is lost, the erotic tingling,
the wool-gabardine mix, its grammatical weave
— you do understand, don't you, by looking? —
never never destined to lose its elasticity,
it was this night I believe but possibly the next
I saw clearly the impossibility of staying
filled with the sensation of being suddenly completed,
also of unknown origin, not shade-giving, not chronological
since the normal growth of boughs is radiating
a system of spoke-wise clubs of green — sleeve pieces —
never never destined to lose its elasticity
my name being called out now but back, behind,
hissing how many coats do you think it will take
"or try with eyesight to divide" (there is no quarrel)
behind everything the sound of something dripping
a system of spoke-wise clubs of green — sleeve pieces
filled with the sensation of suddenly being completed
the wool gabardine mix, the grammatical weave,
the never-never-to-lose-its-elasticity: my name
flapping in the wind like the first note of my absence
hissing how many coats do you think it will take
are you a test case is it an emergency
flapping in the wind the first note of something
overheard nearby an impermanence of structure
watching the lip-reading, there is no quarrel,
I will vanish, others will come here, what is that,
never never to lose the sensation of suddenly being
completed in the wind — the first note of our quarrel —
it was this night I believe or possibly the next
filled with the sensation of being suddenly completed,
I will vanish, others will come here, what is that now
floating in the air before us with stars a test case
that I saw clearly the impossibility of staying

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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